No rust on Hun­gary’s Iron Lady

Hosszu en­thralls home crowd with wire-to-wire win at worlds

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BU­DAPEST — With Katie Ledecky get­ting the night off, Hun­gary’s Iron Lady seized the mo­ment at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships on Mon­day.

Katinka Hosszu lived up to her coun­try’s enor­mous ex­pec­ta­tions with an elec­tri­fy­ing vic­tory in the 200m in­di­vid­ual med­ley, spurred on by a flag-waving, foot-stomp­ing crowd at Duna Arena.

The new 12,000-seat fa­cil­ity along the Danube was packed to the rafters, and it was clear who most of the fans came to see.

Hosszu didn’t let them down.

“It’s re­ally hard to put into words what it means to win at home,” she said. “It def­i­nitely gives you ex­tra en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion. It was just crazy.”

Hosszu led from start to fin­ish in the race which en­com­passes all four swimming strokes, fin­ish­ing off with the freestyle and a time of 2 min, 7 sec.

It was nearly a sec­ond slower than her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics last sum­mer, but enough to hold off hard-charg­ing Yui Ohashi of Ja­pan, who set­tled for sil­ver in 2:07.91.

The bronze went to Madisyn Cox of the United States in 2:09.71, just ahead of team­mate Melanie Mar­go­lis.

Af­ter touch­ing the wall, Hosszu pounded the wa­ter, stuck out her tongue and climbed atop a lane rope to ac­knowl­edge the rau­cous crowd.

Her hus­band and coach, Shane Tusup, pumped his fists and let out a yell.

Hosszu popped out of the wa­ter and ran around the deck to em­brace Tusup, who handed her a red cap em­bla­zoned with the nick­name she re­ceived a few years ago for her gru­el­ing reper­toire of events: Iron Lady.

“This is pretty much how I felt the first time I won,” she said.

Hosszu wasn’t the only big name to claim gold on the sec­ond night of swimming.

Bri­tain’s Adam Peaty romped to vic­tory in the men’s 100m breast­stroke, while Swe­den’s Sarah Sjostrom just missed break­ing her own world record in the 100 but­ter­fly.

Af­ter claim­ing two golds on Sun­day, Ledecky’s lone race was the morn­ing pre­lim­i­nar­ies of the 1500 freestyle. She breezed through the gru­el­ing event in 15:47.57 — nearly 18 sec­onds faster than sec­ond­fastest qual­i­fier Mireia Bel­monte of Spain.

It’s re­ally hard to put into words what it means to win at home. It def­i­nitely gives you ex­tra en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion.” Hun­gary’s Katinka Hosszu,

af­ter win­ning the 200m IM

The fi­nal is on Tues­day. “It felt good,” Ledecky said. “I know how to man­age the sched­ule. I just kind of have to work through the pre­lims as easy as I can to keep my­self rested.”

In the semi­fi­nals of the women’s 100 breast­stroke, Olympic gold medal­ist Lilly King and Yu­lia Efi­mova set up a re­match of their bit­ter race in Rio, where the fin­ger-wag­ging Amer­i­can called out her Rus­sian ri­val for a history of dop­ing vi­o­la­tions .

Efi­mova was the fastest qual­i­fier at 1:04.35 — just one­hun­dredth of a sec­ond off the world record — and King was right be­hind at 1:04.53.

Peaty, who now sports a mas­sive lion tat­too on his left arm, made the turn un­der his world-record pace from Rio but faded a bit on the re­turn lap to touch in 57.47.

The un­ques­tioned breast­stroke king missed his mark of 57.13 yet still turned in the sec­ond-fastest time ever in the event.

His ul­ti­mate goal is to be­come the first breast­stro­ker to break the 57-sec­ond bar­rier, a quest he has dubbed ‘Project 56’.

“I’ve a few more 57 races to get down to 56, but I’m just go­ing to fol­low that curve now and see where I can go,” he said.

The sil­ver went to Kevin Cordes of the US in 58.79 and Rus­sia’s Kir­ill Prigoda claimed the bronze (59.05). Amer­i­can Cody Miller, the bronze medal­ist in Rio, fin­ished fifth.

Hav­ing al­ready set a world record with her lead­off leg in the 4x100 freestyle re­lay, Sjostrom nearly took down an­other mark in the fly with a win­ning time of 55.53.

That was just 0.05 sec­onds off her gold-medal tri­umph at Rio. When Sjostrom saw the time on the score­board, she cov­ered her mouth in sur­prise.

“It felt like I was go­ing a bit slower than I did yes­ter­day ac­tu­ally, so maybe but­ter­fly is about be­ing all re­laxed and then you can be even faster,” said the Swede, who didn’t look at all tired a day af­ter rac­ing four times.

Aus­tralia’s Emma McKeon (56.18) grabbed the sil­ver and Kelsi Wor­rell of the US (56.37) set­tled for bronze.

Seven­teen-year-old Cana­dian Penny Olek­siak, a break­out star in Rio with four medals, fin­ished fourth.

Bri­tain earned an­other gold when Ben­jamin Proud touched first at 22.79 in the men’s 50 but­ter­fly, a nonO­lympic event. Brazil’s Ni­cholas San­tos took sil­ver (22.84) and Ukraine’s An­drii Govorov grabbed bronze (22.84) just ahead of Amer­i­can Caeleb Dres­sel, who came into the fi­nal as the fastest qual­i­fier.

“It wasn’t about win­ning be­cause I knew five peo­ple in the race had the op­por­tu­nity to win,” Proud said.

“For­tu­nately, I man­aged to put my race to­gether, han­dled my time and it came out quite well.

“It’s a weird feel­ing be­cause it’s some­thing I’ve been dream­ing about for six or seven years.”

TI­BOR IL­LYES / MTI VIA AP

Katinka Hosszu of host Hun­gary re­acts af­ter win­ning the women's 200m in­di­vid­ual med­ley fi­nal at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest on Mon­day.

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